This is a post that I’ve been encouraged to write this week and it is a little scary. I think I’ve resisted to write in too much depth here before, possibly because it feels a little too self-absorbed, would you really be interested? and also because it takes courage to make myself vulnerable. This story contains deep emotions and struggles of mine, I know not everyone will understand. But if there is anything I’ve learnt over the last few years, it’s that vulnerability creates true, deep connection. My vain hope is that this site is an encouragement to create, to be creative and to connect. Because I think this is essential for emotional, spiritual and mental health, and I have found it to be so.

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I came to write, create this blog/website from a life journey that like many has been hard, beautiful, broken and recreated. This is my attempt to tell some of my story here and how it caused me to be here writing this website now.

How to make a heart string with heart template. Crafting and home decor site, www.makingforliving.com

My husband and I started a little design agency and grew it over a period of 10 years, our aim was to serve our clients and employees the best way we knew how. We invested in the business and learnt so many lessons, it was very hard and took faith to live and trust that there would be enough in the bank accounts through the month. 10 years in and it was good, great work, clients and great people working with us. Over this period I also had three children, my mum beat breast cancer, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma and we moved house twice. With the birth of our third child our little cottage was now too small so we decided to sell and buy a larger place.

The same week our son was born, we sold our house and the business started to fall apart.

Our main business was for departments across the local public sector, and with a change in government and the economic crash, one by one projects were cancelled. Projects already started and booked in. We hung on, tried to do the best by our employees but the work dried up.

We moved into a rented house as our lives started to fall apart financially, emotionally and mentally. We believed in a good God yet everything bar our beautiful children was crap. My Dad’s lymphoma returned, we had many distressing moments where we struggled to pay the bills, horrible phone calls from institutions wanting money and even worse, wondering how to put food on the table for our little family.

Unsurprisingly we were both diagnosed with depression. I had a baby at home and two children at school, I am amazed really at how well they weathered the storm going on around them. (Maybe we’ll be paying for their therapy later!) We struggled through 2 years in that first rental house. As you know, I write here about making and creating for the home, it is one of my loves, so to live in a temporary house with no freedom and no money to decorate was stifling. It sounds so first world problem, but there was a desire to create a safe space, a nest for my children. Not only that, the depression meant that to create anything was impossible too, I lacked the motivation, the inspiration and the energy, the focus was gone. I was exhausted just trying to stay alive. I also felt shame and guilt not only for the failure of the business but because I was blamed solely for our situation by someone, and many other Christians believe that depression is just bad thinking, lack of faith or blessing, or just being negative. So I felt isolated from and misunderstood by the very community that had always been my home and safe place. I also felt so lonely, it felt as if everyone around me was talking about their moving house, home extensions and improvements, and I had nothing to say, and I was jealous. Ok, maybe that last bit was a little self pitying.

There are a few special people in that time that held us, prayed with and for us and saw us through and I found that there were some Christians out there who understood depression and understood the need for chemical help. I believe that God is our provider and no food on the table was causing a lack of faith in him in me. But we didn’t starve, and there were some very sacrificial saints who gave to us. We stumbled through. I still have faith that God loves me but I don’t have all the answers to my desperate questions.

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I slowly found my way out of the black hole, and I began to make things again. The irony being that the very thing that I couldn’t do in my depression was the thing I found that I most needed to do. A friend and I began to run creative events where others would come to make things and some would say that it was like therapy and that it was a needed space to make something beautiful. I began to see that to create was good and a reflection of my heavenly father, and that it was healing to the soul. It helped with healing mine.

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Five years on and I won’t say that everything is perfect and we are living happily ever after, because we’re not. But it is better. Since that first rental house we have lived in two more rentals, and that is really hard for me. I find moving exhausting and the kids hate it. Just this last December (2014) we had to move again and the journey was traumatic due to an initial possibility of buying a house and not be at the whim of landlords, and that falling apart and then not being able to find a rental house available at the time we had to move. We found a house at the last minute that has worked out ok, but I was exhausted again and found myself crippled with debilitating anxiety. I would wake in the middle of the night with my heart pounding not being able to breathe through the fear. I would have panic attacks where I would literally tremble and be rooted to the spot. It seemed irrational, but mentally there was something wrong and it manifested physically. But I know a bit more how to treat myself in this now, I got some therapy, I was kind to myself, I saw the doctor and I started to focus on creating again. I have learnt not to put my faith and security in houses. I have learnt to create with limited resources and that there are still ways to decorate spaces even if they are temporary with restrictions and that it is ok to want to do that. I have also learnt that God doesn’t always bless us with material things, but he blesses us with experiences and growth.

And here I am, raw and vulnerable from writing this but hopeful in that perhaps there is someone who is saying; “me too”. You are not alone. I think we are all creative, I believe that we reflect the character of God, who made us in his image, when we create. I believe that we need to feel free to create whether that be in art, design, thinking, baking, sewing, crafting, writing and much more. So if you feel the need to create – do it! Get creative, don’t worry about the outcome, just create. I will be cheering you on and I believe that God cheers you on too.

Abi

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How creating helped with my depression
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12 thoughts on “How creating helped with my depression

  • 11th August 2015 at 8:11 pm
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    Hi Abi,
    It’s Clare Vinnell (as was) here.
    I just read your post off Charis’ facebook and wanted to write immediately and say thank you for being honest.
    I find myself in a similarish place and yet struggle to get started on being creative even though I know it’s what I need to do. I’m living in a small flat in Peckham with 2 little boys – it all feels a far cry away from the leafy green life of Oxford! We don’t have loads of money and today was one of those days when I felt it more. Thanks for your post and being encouraging. Depression is my battle too and although I’m getting better at dealing with it, it continues to pop up and zap my energy and joy now and then.
    Good to know there are others out there too…
    Lots of love
    Clarexx

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    • 11th August 2015 at 8:44 pm
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      Thanks so much for your honesty Clare. I’m touched to hear it was encouraging for you. It’s hard to break through to create sometimes, and sometimes I just need to take a break and get input again too. I know how hard it is to find space with little ones around too. That gets easier with time and school! I’m so glad you commented. Much love x

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  • 11th August 2015 at 9:44 pm
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    Hi lovely

    Well done and thank you for writing with such vulnerability and honesty. You are definitely not the only one (despite what it may have felt like so often). I am convinced- and I will pray- that your openness will reap many blessings. I am sure that you have heard this verse a thousand times, but it came to my mind as I was reading this: ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong’. (2 Corinithians 12 8-10). I am glad that you are creating again; i know how therapeutic creativity is! Much love to you xxxx

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  • 12th August 2015 at 9:19 am
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    Thank you for sharing such an honest piece and for sharing part of your life with us. I found that creating has helped me stay positive in so many ways even if things do get bad. For me, it’s about taking my mind off reality and surrounding myself with making. I find it very soothing and don’t feel good when I stop. Thank you!

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    • 12th August 2015 at 9:24 am
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      Thanks Agatha. I hear you, sometimes it’s creating a new reality by the act of creating and the process. X

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  • 15th September 2015 at 2:57 pm
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    Hi Abi – I was just introduced to your blog by Charlotte Osborn. I am so blessed by your honesty and the beauty of your vulnerability. I will especially be pondering upon these words today: “God doesn’t always bless us with material things but He blesses us with experiences and growth.” Thank you for being such an encouragement. Looking forward to following your blog and seeing how God continues to move in your life. Blessings to you and your family – Shelley, your new American follower!

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    • 15th September 2015 at 4:59 pm
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      Hi Shelley,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad it encouraged you. It’s an encouragement to me! Abi x

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  • 26th October 2016 at 4:57 pm
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    I’ve come across this post from one of your blog’s recommended reads and although it’s not a new post, I had to take a few deep breaths as I could feel the pain you were experiencing. Having being given such a source of joy in your baby and then a walloping source of disappointment and change from the business and house move difficulties, your poor head must have been truly overwhelmed.
    I can have empathy with much of what you’ve written. We’ve moved this year – quite recently in fact – from the home we spent 21 years in to a completely new town and way of life. It’s been wonderful but the process nearly broke me and it was the goodness within other people that got us here. I won’t describe myself as a Christian as my beliefs are quite eclectic, but what I do believe is that people come into your life for a reason and this was truly the case for us. As you say, we are blessed with experiences and growth at times in our lives and I believe that everything happens for a reason and because we have to learn from them.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the family illnesses and you must have been full of worry and concern. Mix that in with juggling moving house and a new baby and I take my hat off to you for coping. As mums we have to cope but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
    I’ve experienced the worry and change cancer can cause. My husband had cancer 11 years ago and thankfully he’s been cancer-free for many years, but it’s a difficult and almost surreal journey. I’ve had three cancer scares myself and am currently living through another one. Tomorrow I go in for a biopsy on what looks very likely to be melanoma.

    I have managed to keep pragmatic and calm throughout and being creative has a HUGE part to play in that. Whether reading, writing, making or baking, it has given me a focus and something to keep my mind occupied and prevented it from going to dark places. Our youngest has autism too, so I’ve never any excuse for not being busy but when I have a few minutes I like to pick up a book or just sit and write lists of what I need to and want to do next. It all helps.

    I have a blog. It’s a private one as I use it as a diary really, so prefer to know who is reading it. I had a public one for many years previously, though felt more guarded about what I wrote, trying not to offend others and wondering what opinions there’d be in the comments and that made it less authentic for me.
    I kept a handwritten diary for many years but found blogs about 10 years ago when I met someone who wrote a wonderful one and through them I’ve found like-minded people and have made many online friends.

    Your being so open and honest in this post was, I hope, therapeutic to you, and now time has moved on, I hope that your parents are doing well in their fights against cancer and you and your family are in a better place. You definitely aren’t alone. Huge blessings to you and your family. x

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  • 26th October 2016 at 5:58 pm
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    Thanks Emma, I hope that your biopsy tomorrow, is not as you fear. I’m so glad you have been able to be creative, it is something I believe we are meant to do. I’m glad you have a blog, writing is a great outlet isn’t it? I love blogs too and have met people online and found many things people write very helpful.
    “We read to know we are not alone” so they say!
    This post was therapeutic to me and I hope that it has helped others too. Thankfully my parents are cancer free now and we are in a better place. I know you say you are not a Christian but I will pray for you and your test tomorrow if that’s ok.
    I’m really blessed by all your comments on the site today! Thank you.

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    • 13th December 2016 at 4:46 pm
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      I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to return to this post, Abi.
      Thank you so much for praying for me as it means a lot. A lot of my dearest friends are Christian and I have others who are the polar opposite, but I honour and appreciate all their belief systems, which is probably why I’m quite eclectic in my personal beliefs – I can see the good in so many.

      I have good news – my biopsy came back negative. Recovering from it was more problematic than originally thought as I had a severe reaction to the Elastoplast used. But although my skin is not yet fully recovered, I have given great thanks for the result and being able to move on with my life again. I connected with others on a similar journey and my thoughts, prayers and blessings are with them all. Times like that make you count your blessings.

      Writing is a really wonderful outlet, I totally agree. I tend to find I get everything out and it relieves me of a lot that I would undoubtedly be shouldering alone otherwise. Likewise, I find many other blogs really helpful and have connected a lot with other bloggers over the years to the point that a few are personal friends now.

      I am so glad that your parents are well now. It is such a worry when those you love are unwell. I have definitely found that having experienced cancer from both sides of the coin – as a wife to a cancer sufferer but now a cancer survivor and as a potential patient – it is definitely harder being the one not going through it. The loved ones certainly suffer deeply.

      I am now going to enjoy reading through some of your most recent posts and commenting. Again, apologies for not returning to your blog for a number of weeks, but it’s so lovely that I know I’ll be a regular visitor.
      Take care and thank you again for your kindness and prayers. x

      Reply
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